Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, yet it isn’t the largest. However, this should put any family off when they are searching for activities in Wellington.
There are many various things to see from the Beehive, Wellington Cave, and many more besides.
It is an art and culture hub, yet retains plenty of culture and history from years gone by. As they say, all the best things come in small packages, so when Wellington tourism says there are lots of hidden gems, that is precisely what the region delivers.
Here are some of the best things to please any member of an adventurous family.
In This Guide
Top Ten Places to Visit in Wellington
1. Wellington Cable Car
Taking this trip up the steep hill using the Wellington cable car may be just the thing to deliver some sedate views of the city as you climb for nearly five minutes.
The bottom is convenient right behind Lambton Quay. This is the only functioning funicular rail system in New Zealand, so it is the only chance for the family to have a photo opportunity on a climbing cable car.
Once at the top, there is the cable car museum and the carter observatory, which is NZ’s longest-serving national observatory.
Kids can learn more about the solar system and handle some space rock. There is also the chance for night viewings using a telescope because New Zealand has some of the clearest skies in the world.
2. The Weta Cave
One of the best things to do in Wellington for the kids of the family is to head on a Weta Studio Tour.
From Tracy Island (Thunderbirds) to Middle Earth (Hobbit, Lord of the Rings), they can be immersed in movie-making magic.
There are countless movie props, miniature sets, weapons, and armor, all of which are made in Wellington.
Once that is over, it is time to explore The Weta Cave, and where the magic really begins to happen. Kids can have selfies with sculptures after wandering through the mini-museum.
The great thing with this is it doesn’t cost a penny. Tours are free, and it is open 364 days per year.
3. 360 Degree Views with Mt Victoria
East of the city center lays Mt Victoria. This rises 197 meters high and delivers the best views of Wellington’s cityscape. It can be a little breezy on top of the Mt Victoria lookout, yet it is worth fending off the wind.
The road is long and winding and clearly signposted (Lookout), Sitting just below the observation platform is the Byrd memorial.
This is to commemorate the American pilot who was the first person to fly over the south pole and using NZ as his base.
The lookout makes a perfect photo opportunity, or just gives visitors the chance to relax and breathe in some of the cleanest air possible.
4. Wellington Waterfront
For a leisurely stroll on an evening, the waterfront has plenty of nighttime Wellington attractions. There are the Frank Kitts Park and the Queen’s Wharf, which are surrounded by some architectural wonders.
One a weekend, families can enjoy the market that forms for some tasty street food or searching for that unique bargain.
Some of the best hotels in Wellington are to be found here so you can be sure of a fantastic view.
The waterfront delivers the serene views of the ocean while behind you, there is the edge of the busy city life which is waiting for very tourist to explore.
5. Botanic Gardens in Wellington
When it isn’t too hot, the family can take a stroll around the 25 hectares of the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
The sprawling hillside in the midst of the city offers meandering trails and paths which weave in between gardens and conifer forests.
One of the best examples being the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens that has over 100 rise beds of different varieties.
The gardens are also home to the Begonia House that houses many tropical plants.
6. ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary
Sitting a couple of kilometers outside Wellington is the ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary. This continually shows the dedicated efforts of the country to preserve the unique wildlife and nature.
The sanctuary is a 255-hectare urban sanctuary where many of the native birds from NZ have their home and include many endangered species.
Visitors can see the saddleback, stitchbird and the takahe. Night tours are available where you can see over one-hundred types of kiwi.
Trails are in abundance stretching over 32 kilometers, and for a slight respite, there is the museum to glance around.
7. Wellington Museum
There are several museums, yet the Wellington museum being the most unique. It has its home in the historic Bond Store, this in itself being of historical value.
It was built in 1892, just off the waterfront, and was formerly a goods and shipping warehouse.
All manner of historical things is shown from the history of the country to the maritime tales and natural disasters.
There are many exhibits, as well as the Wahine Theatre, or families can visit the attic and check out Nga Hau, which combines cinema magic with installation art.
There is plenty to explore, and kids will leave learning something about the rich history of New Zealand.
One other museum worthy of mentioning is Te Papa Tiongarewa. This is the national museum and seen as the definitive place for art lovers outside of a gallery.
It is full of interactive and innovative exhibitions and packed full of Maori treasures and artifacts.
It delivers an experience that is very different from any other museum. With Toi Art, Gallipoli, and Te Taiao, some of them, either permanent or long term exhibitions which will educate and enthrall every family member.
8. Cuba Street Shopping
One of the most famous streets in Wellington is Cuba Street. It sits between Ghuznee Street and Dixon Street.
This open-air mall is pedestrianized and full of old buildings. Back in 2016, it was a victim of the Kaikoura earthquake, yet surprisingly, these old buildings didn’t suffer too much.
It used to be the old tram route, yet these were removed, and as such, was closed to traffic. Not being content with being one of the most historic streets in the city, it is one of the most bohemian areas and one of the busiest.
If you fancy some fine dining, this is where you will find the world-famous Logan Brown restaurant.
This made the news with a fire being in the building next door, yet the Logan still continues to serve some of the best food around.
9. Beer Tours
For adults only, you can indulge in one of the self-made craft beer tours. This is increasingly popular in New Zealand, and Wellington as the capital being right at the center of this explosion.
Rather than sipping on mass-produced ales, these smaller breweries are brewing in smaller batches with unique tastes and the hope of winning Beervana, which is the premier festival for these beers.
Add to this the many places for music, and it can make trawling around the side streets in search of the next best beer a fun night out, if not a wobbly knee one by the end of the evening.
There are a large 20 plus bars that now ensure around 25% of beers sold on tap of craft beers.
There are tasting rooms at Parrot Dog and the Garage Project with some evil concoctions that will put a smile on anyone’s face.
10. Wellington City Gallery
The city art gallery is housed in an old library and has gone on to be the most famous art spaces in the city. There are ever-changing exhibitions throughout the year, so there is always something new to see.
There are works of art from Pacific island artists, international artists, and the up and coming artists waiting to be discovered.
All the time, there are talks, meet the artist events, and live performances held in this easy to spot the building.
You can find this in Civic Square and has expanded since its first opening to add more space. This shows how much art and culture there is from this tiny island.
Wellington is a vibrant city that delivers so much culture and life. While small for a capital, it doesn’t shrink away from how it retains its historical roots or how it caters to new visitors who come throughout the year.
If Wellington is just a passing through the stop on the way to another part of the islands, it is worth stopping off for a day or two to soak up some of the local atmosphere and rich history the city of Wellington has to offer.